We all harbor a stash of environmental chemicals in our bodies. Which chemicals can be tolerated, and which trigger or hasten the development of cancerous cells? And what of diet?
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), exposure to a wide variety of natural and man-made substances in the environment accounts for at least two-thirds of all the cases of cancer in the United States. Environmental factors include cigarette smoke, PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons formed when meat and coal are burned), some infections, exposure to some medical drugs, hormones, and radiation. Chlorine and fluoride, common in city water systems, are known carcinogens.
Poor diet and lack of physical activity also make the list. Physical inactivity is now related to cancers of the colon, breast, and prostate. Otto Warburg, a two-time Nobel Laureate, said in 1966 that while cancer has many secondary causes, it has only one prime cause: lack of oxygen in the body’s cells. Exercise makes for increased oxygen which inhibits cancer cells.
The modern, Western diet promotes cancer. Dr. Weston Price, in his well-documented travels to study nutrition in the late 1930s, found the incidence of cancer was far less in traditional cultures like the Eskimos of Alaska and the Maasi of Africa, even though they ate a high fat diet. Today it is fashionable to say lean meat is good for us. Yet arachidonic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which help fight cancer on the cellular level, are found mostly in animal foods such as butter, organ meats, cod liver oil, and seafood. Traditional Eskimos ate almost no vegetables. Beware of “fashionable” diet advice that changes course every five to ten years. Solid nutrition information can be had from the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Our ancestors never ate chemically altered fats like margarine, or chemically altered sugars like aspartame. For that matter, they didn’t each much sugar or flour. Their animals grazed naturally, unlike today’s cattle which are fed corn, soy, hormones and steroids. The vegetables consumed by our ancestors were grown in soil rich in minerals; today’s soil is depleted. Our ancestors also ate a lot of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids; we eat a lot of inflammatory vegetable oils. Our ancestors never drank soy milk washed in aluminum or filled their teeth with mercury.
When you look at migrant studies, you find that when people migrate from an area of low cancer risk to an area of high cancer risk, the cancer rates go up. And vice versa. “The migrant studies very clearly tell us that the wide range of cancer rates is largely driven by environmental causes,” said Aaron Blair, Ph.D., chief of the Occupational Epidemiology Branch in NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics.
A 2008 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that diet and lifestyle approaches may alter how hundreds of genes express themselves after only a few months time. Genes associated with cancer, heart disease, and inflammation were “turned off” whereas protective genes were “turned on.”
What’s in your environment and on your plate?
The EuroMed Foundation is an Arizona cancer center located at 34975 North Valley Parkway, Building 6, Suite 138, Phoenix, Arizona 85086. To learn more about cancer treatment alternatives, please call 602-404-0400 or send us an email.